Iwi leading Oranga Tamariki care for children

By Herewini Waikato

Ngā Parirau manager Joel Ngatuere welcomes iwi from Te Moananui ā Toi

A seismic shift in the way in which government children’s agency Oranga Tamariki is working with mana whenua, hapu, and iwi was seen today.

Iwi from Te Moananui ā Toi (Eastern Bay of Plenty) gathered for the opening of the Oranga Tamariki- Ngā Parirau site in Papamoa.

It’s the first of its kind and this is an example of the Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board’s recommendations being put in action.

“This is the first of its kind for Oranga Tamariki to allow the iwi to lead and Oranga Tamariki follows”, Minister for Children Kelvin Davis said from Parliament.

Ngā Parirau is a branch of Oranga Tamariki, which has started working in partnership with kaumātau in Te Whakaruruhau who aim to keep vulnerable children within their families.

Ngā Parirau  manager Joel Ngatuere for the site has taken on board Te Whakaruruhau’s need for a whānaungatanga panel and to be led by Te Whakaruruhau. “We are going to make it happen.”

‘Real partnership’

Rahera Ohia from Te Whakaruruhau sees Oranga Tamariki and iwi in real partnership for the betterment of their children through Ngā Parirau.

“Having a care and protection panel and a whānaungatanga panel sit alongside - together they are going to make the decisions what is going to happen to each child.”

Although Davis did not arrive in person, he did connect by zoom.

“We heard the feedback of the community, groups, and iwi. We know what's best for our own children, so allow us to lead and navigate,” Davis said.

A statement from Oranga Tamariki today said there were 5,050 tamariki in Oranga Tamariki care of whom 3,400 are Māori. As at October 31, 67% of tamariki in care are Māori and Oranga Tamariki Bay of Plenty regional manager Tasi Malu believes Ngā Parirau can help bring these numbers down.

“I think there has been a certainly greater connection with whānau and our communities, fewer tamariki coming into care and far fewer applications to courts,” Malu said.